EVERETT — The murmurings of a potential outdoor hockey game involving the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds at Safeco Field in Seattle began several weeks ago.
Gregg Drinnan of Kamloops, British Columbia, broached the idea on his Taking Note blog, and a Seattle Times article by Geoff Baker last week said the Thunderbirds looked into the possibility with the Seattle Mariners several years ago.
So how close is this to becoming a reality? Not very, according to Zoran Rajcic, the chief operating officer of CSH International, Inc., the umbrella organization that owns the Silvertips.
“There’s nothing (right now) …,” Rajcic said. “I know both the Seattle Thunderbirds and us have been thrown around because we’re the only two hockey teams here, so it would make the most sense.”
Rajcic said the Tips were approached by KevaWorks, a California-based event management and promotions company, about the possibility of playing at Safeco Field. So far that contact has been limited to several emails, and nothing has come to fruition.
“It was just in passing (if) we’d be interested in doing it or not and the answer was ‘Yes,’” Rajcic said. “After that point in time, nothing more has been done to work out all the logistics.”
Craig Herkimer, the president of KevaWorks is a self-described “huge hockey fan” who is “interested in hockey-related opportunities.”
“We are hoping to bring a signature outdoor hockey event to the area with the support of the local hockey community,” Herkimer said in an email. “Nothing has been confirmed, but many people in the sports community are interested in bringing this kind of event to the area.”
An outdoor game is not without precedent in the Western Hockey League. Spokane and Calgary hosted outdoor games in 2011, and Regina will play host Moose Jaw outdoors in February. However, the weather in Regina is generally more conducive to keeping ideal ice conditions, and that’s just one of a litany of challenges Rajcic pointed out.
Rajcic said the game would require WHL approval and the Silvertips haven’t made any overtures in pursuit of securing that approval. Rajcic also said the Silvertips’ lease states that all regular-season home games have to be played at Xfinity Arena. Finally, even if both those hurdles were cleared, someone would have to give up a home date and all the accompanying revenue. Games between Everett and Seattle frequently draw 8,000 fans to Xfinity Arena and more than 5,000 to ShoWare Center in Kent.
Then there’s the cost of putting in a rink, a figure Rajcic estimated in the $120,000-130,000 range, and the cost of renting the facility. And then there’s the issue of whether or not an outdoor game could draw enough spectators. Safeco Field holds nearly 48,000 fans for baseball, and Rajcic said anything less than 35,000 for a potential outdoor game at a venue of that size would be viewed as a flop.
“That’s the part where I look at it and I don’t know,” Rajcic said. “It would be unique enough that you could probably get enough people, and if we had 8-10 months to organize and to sell it, but it isn’t an idea where either us or the Seattle Thunderbirds have come out and said, ‘Hey we want to do an outdoor game at Safeco Field,’ because there’s a lot of logistics that go behind it.”
The Silvertips organization looked into playing an outdoor game on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln back in 2005, Rajcic said, but the event never came together. The aircraft carrier moved to Norfolk, Virginia, in 2011.
Nevertheless, if all the conditions can be met, Rajcic said an outdoor game at Safeco Field would be an intriguing idea.
“Is there an interest level? Absolutely. I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to that,” he said. “But we haven’t done anything (about it).”
For the latest Silvertips nwes follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.